How to Be More Productive on Your iPad at Work

How to Rock Your iPad at the Office

Apple, Inc.

The iPad is all grown up and ready for business. But are you ready? It is easy to use the iPad to get some work done, but if you really want to be efficient with it, you will need to know about the right features and download the right apps for it. This includes letting the iPad become your personal assistant, using the newest apps to draft documents and leveraging "the cloud" to sync documents between devices and collaborate with teammates.

Take Advantage of Siri

Siri isn't just for ordering pizza or checking the weather. She's at her best when she's working as your personal assistant. Siri is quite capable of keeping up with reminders, setting meeting times and scheduling events. She can even take voice dictation, so if you aren't handy with an on-screen keyboard but don't use it enough to buy a real keyboard, she'll do the heavy lifting for you. In simple terms, Siri may be the single most effective productivity tool that is bundled with the iPad.

Siri works in combination with the iPad's Calendar, Reminders, and other apps. These apps also sync through iCloud, so you can set a reminder on your iPad and have it pop up on your iPhone.  And if multiple people use the same iCloud account, they will all have access to those calendar events.

Here are a few things Siri can do for you:

  • "Remind me to attend the 9 AM Miller meeting at 8:30 AM on Tuesday."  This statement will set an 8:30 AM reminder about a 9 AM meeting, which is handy if you need to prepare for it.
  • "Set up a meeting with Chris Miller tomorrow at 9 AM."  This will block off your calendar for 9 AM the next day.  The default event time is for one hour, but you can tell Siri how long it will last. 
  • "Take a note that the dimensions of my desk are 36 by 24". Don't want to load up the Notes app and type in some quick information?  Siri can do that too.   

    Read: 17 Ways Siri Can Help You Be More Productive

    Download an Office Suite

    One of the little-known secrets about the iPad is that it comes with an office suite. Apple's iWork, which includes Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, is a free download to anyone who has bought an iPad or iPhone within the last few years. This gives you access to an incredible range of apps that can help with word processing, spreadsheets or presentations.

    Do you prefer Microsoft Office? It is also available for the iPad. Microsoft finally decided to stop banging their head against the iPad train and get on board instead. Not only can you get Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, you can also download Outlook, OneNote, Lync and SharePoint Newsfeed.

    You can also download apps for Google Docs and Google Sheets that will make using Google's cloud-based tools much easier.  

    Integrate Cloud Storage

    Speaking of the cloud, Dropbox is one of the most productive apps on the iPad.  Not only does it make backing up your important documents on the iPad a snap, it is also great for working on both your iPad and your PC at the same time.  Dropbox can sync a file in seconds, so you can go from taking a photo and making touchups on your iPad to doing a deeper layer of edits on your PC and then back to your iPad in seconds.

      Of course, Dropbox isn't the only game in town.  There are a number of great cloud storage solutions for the iPad. And Apple has made it super easy to manage cloud documents with the new Files app and the drag-and-drop feature.  

    Video Conferencing

    It should be no surprise that the iPad excels in communications. You can even use it as a phone, and between FaceTime and Skype, the iPad provides easy access to video conferencing. But what about full-blown video meetings? Between Cisco WebEx Meetings and GoToMeeting, you won't have any time collaborating, brainstorming or simply staying organized with a team of people.

    Scan Documents With Your iPad

    As much was we try there seems to be no getting away from paper. Luckily, we don't need to increase the problem by having a device dedicated to scanning that paper. The iPad's camera is quite capable of acting as a scanner, and thanks to a number of really good apps, it is super easy to take a picture of a document and have that image clipped perfectly so that it looks like it actually went through a real scanner. The best part is most Scanner apps will let you copy the document to cloud storage, mark up the document, print it and send it as an email attachment.

    Scanner Pro is one of the leading apps for scanning documents.  And using it is perhaps easier than using your camera. To scan a document, you tap the big orange "+" button and the iPad's camera is activated. All you need to do to scan the document is align it within the camera's confines. Scanner Pro will wait until it has a steady shot and automatically snap the photo and crop it so that only the document appears. Yes, it's that easy.  

    Read: How to Turn Your iPad Into a Scanner

    Buy an AirPrint Printer

    Let's not forget printing! It's easy to miss that the iPad is compatible with many different printers straight out of the box. AirPrint allows the iPad and printer to communicate through a local Wi-Fi network, so there's no need to connect the iPad to the printer. Simply buy a printer that supports AirPrint, connect it to your Wi-Fi network and the iPad will recognize it.  

    You can print from within iPad apps by tapping the Share button, which looks like a box with an arrow coming out of it.

    If the app supports printing, the "Print" button will appear in the second row of buttons in the Share menu.  

    Read: The Best AirPrint Printers

    Download the Right Apps

    We've already covered the two most popular office suites for the iPad, and it would be impossible to list out all of the great iPad apps that are useful in a work environment, but there are a few that can fit in with almost any type of work.

    If your need to take notes goes beyond what the built-in Notes app is capable, and especially if you need to share those notes to other non-iOS devices, Evernote can be a real life-savor. Evernote is a multi-platform cloud-based version of Notes.

    Do you work with a lot of PDF files? GoodReader is not only a great way to read them, it will also let you edit them. GoodReader connects to all of the popular cloud storage solutions, so you can plug it right into your workflow.

    Does your need to manage tasks extend beyond what the iPad's reminders and calendar apps can provide? Things is one of the top productivity apps on the iPad simply because of its superiority as a task manager.

    Multitasking and Task Switching

    After you've loaded your iPad up with great apps, you will want to navigate between those apps efficiently. Task Switching provides the ability to quickly shift between different apps seamlessly. You can activate Task Switching by double-clicking the Home Button to bring up the task screen and simply tapping on the app you want to use. The iPad keeps the app in memory when it is in the background so that it can be quickly loaded when you activate it.

    You can also bring up the task screen by placing four fingers on the iPad's screen and moving them toward the top so long as you have multitasking gestures turned on in the iPad's settings.

    But the fastest way to switch between tasks is by using the iPad's dock. The new dock allows you to put more icons on it for fast access, but even better, it includes the last three apps you've opened. These icons are on the far right side of the dock and they make it super easy to switch from one app to the next.  

    You can quickly access the dock within any app by sliding your finger up from the very bottom edge of the screen. 

    Want to multitask? The dock can help you out there too! Instead of tapping the app icon to switch to it, hold your finger down on it. When you have an app open and you tap-and-hold an icon on the dock, you can drag it onto the side of the screen. If both apps support multitasking, you will see the full screen app move over to allow the new app to launch on the side of the screen. Once you have two apps up at once, you can use the small divider between them to either allow them to each take up a half of the screen, one to run on the side of the screen, or move the divider off the side of the screen to close a multitasking app.

    Read More on How to Multitask on the iPad

    The 12.9-inch iPad Pro

    If you really want to boost your productivity, you should think about buying an iPad Pro. The difference between the iPad Pro and the iPad Air (or "iPad") line is huge.  The iPad Pro rivals most laptops in terms of pure processing power, it doubles the RAM found in other iPads and it has the most advanced display of any iPad, including support for wide-gamut colors.  

    But it's not just the speed that will make you more productive. The additional screen space on the 12.9-inch model is great for multitasking. And if you do a lot of content creation, the bigger on-screen keyboard is roughly the same size as a regular keyboard. It even has the row of number/symbol keys at the very top, saving time from switching between different layouts.

    Learn How the Pros Navigate the iPad

    And if you want to be more productive on the iPad, you will want to be more efficient while using it. There are a number of shortcuts in navigation that can help you get where you are going faster. For example, instead of hunting for an app, you can quickly launch it by swiping down on the Home Screen to bring up Spotlight Search and typing the app name into the search bar. You can also launch apps using Siri.

    Also, make use of the task screen. We've already talked about double-clicking the home button to bring up the task screen. Even if you aren't switching back and forth between apps, this is a great way to launch an app if you've used it recently.   

    Read: How to Use the iPad Like a Pro

    Add Websites to the Home Screen

    If you frequently use specific websites for work, for example, a content management system (CMS), you can save time by adding the website to your iPad's Home Screen. This will allow the website to act like any other app. And you won't believe how easy it is to save the website as an app icon. Simply navigate to the web page, tap the Share button at the top of the screen and choose "Add to Home Screen" from the second row of options.

    The icon will act like any other app, so you can put it in a folder or even move it to the iPad's dock, which will give you quick access to it at all times.

    Dedicated Email Alongside Your PC

    Your iPad use shouldn't stop just because you sat down at your desktop. The iPad can serve a number of great functions while you work. You can use it as a dedicated email client or instant message client, or it can simply be used as quick access to the web browser. This works even better if you have a dock for your iPad, which makes it almost like another monitor. And, yes, if you want it to really act like an additional monitor, you can do so by downloading an app like Duet Display.

    Buy a Keyboard

    You might have expected this one closer to the top of the list, but I actually recommend skipping the keyboard when buying an iPad. Many people are quite surprised at how quickly they can type using the on-screen keyboard, especially after they learn keyboard shortcuts like skipping the apostrophe and allowing Auto Correct to insert it. The iPad also allows you to dictate any time the keyboard is on the screen by tapping the microphone button embedded in the standard keyboard.

    But if you are going to do a lot of typing on the iPad, nothing beats a physical keyboard.

    The iPad Pro line of tablets supports Apple's Smart Keyboard, which may be the best overall keyboard for the iPad.  One nice part about Apple keyboards is that PC shortcuts like command-c for copy will also work on the iPad, saving you from tapping on the screen. And when used in combination with the virtual touchpad, it is almost like using a PC.

    Don't have an iPad Pro? You can also use Apple's Magic Keyboard with the iPad and get many of the same features. The only thing it won't do is charge through the iPad Pro's new connector.  

    Want to save money? Or go with something different? There are a wide variety of third-party keyboards like Anker's Ultra Compact keyboard, which costs less than $50, and Logitech's Type+, which is a case with an integrated keyboard.

    The key for buying a wireless keyboard is to make sure it supports Bluetooth and look for iOS or iPad support on the box.  If you would rather a keyboard case, you'll want to make sure it works with your particular iPad model.  Earlier iPad models pre-iPad Air have different dimensions, and with three different sizes for the iPad, you definitely want to make sure the case fits your particular model.  

    Did you know: You can also use a wired keyboard with your iPad.  You simply need to have the camera adapter.

    The Best Keyboards for Your iPad

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